The dishonor of an “honor culture”

The British press was rocked for a few minutes a couple of weeks ago by the story of an Iraqi girl whose father murdered her quite brutally because she’d fallen in love with a British soldier. (There was no hint, by the way, that she’d done anything about the love; it was an infatuation from afar.) An interview with that father gives one a good insight into the culture arrayed against us in the epic clash of civilizations in which we’re now embroiled:

Two weeks ago, The Observer revealed how 17-year-old student Rand Abdel-Qader was beaten to death by her father after becoming infatuated with a British soldier in Basra. In this remarkable interview, Abdel-Qader Ali explains why he is unrepentant – and how police backed his actions.

For Abdel-Qader Ali there is only one regret: that he did not kill his daughter at birth. ‘If I had realised then what she would become, I would have killed her the instant her mother delivered her,’ he said with no trace of remorse.

Two weeks after The Observer revealed the shocking story of Rand Abdel-Qader, 17, murdered because of her infatuation with a British solider in Basra, southern Iraq, her father is defiant. Sitting in the front garden of his well-kept home in the city’s Al-Fursi district, he remains a free man, despite having stamped on, suffocated and then stabbed his student daughter to death.

Abdel-Qader, 46, a government employee, was initially arrested but released after two hours. Astonishingly, he said, police congratulated him on what he had done. ‘They are men and know what honour is,’ he said.

[snip]

It was her first youthful infatuation and it would be her last. She died on 16 March after her father discovered she had been seen in public talking to Paul, considered to be the enemy, the invader and a Christian. Though her horrified mother, Leila Hussein, called Rand’s two brothers, Hassan, 23, and Haydar, 21, to restrain Abdel-Qader as he choked her with his foot on her throat, they joined in. Her shrouded corpse was then tossed into a makeshift grave without ceremony as her uncles spat on it in disgust.

‘Death was the least she deserved,’ said Abdel-Qader. ‘I don’t regret it. I had the support of all my friends who are fathers, like me, and know what she did was unacceptable to any Muslim that honours his religion,’ he said.

You can read the rest — which is as sickening as the bit above — here. First and foremost, the article is a reminder that Islam, as practiced by Arabs at least, is possibly the most self-centered religion in the world. It’s not really about serving God, nor is it about living a moral life where your own behavior must measure up to God’s standards. Instead, it’s all about “me, me, me!” “You embarrassed me, therefore you offended God.” “You aren’t living life the way I think you should, therefore I get to kill you to satisfy my God.” Although Islam apologists try to treat it as part of the modern trinity of non-pagan religions, it is, in fact, a religion deeply rooted in human sacrifice — and the sacrifice isn’t for the greater glory of God (which was, at least, the excuse for the ritual sacrifices in days of old), but simply to satisfy the killers’ egos and insecurities.

Second, although it shouldn’t be any less foremost, is the miserable, craven, ill-informed, stupid, dangerous behavior of those on the Left, who claim so loudly to be the staunchest defenders in the West of women’s rights (and gay rights, and workers’ rights, and immigrant rights). These nincompoops certainly pay lip service to these “rights”, and they’re always willing to assert them against those cultures that accord the greatest respect to women and gays and workers and immigrants. At the same time, though, they’re so blinded by their obsequious desire to placate any group that isn’t America, that they are yielding ground at warp speed to people who firmly believe in an unimpeded right to slaughter women and gays, and to enslave workers (especially those immigrants unlucky enough to end up in such bastions of Muslim paganism as Saudi Arabia or Yemen).

Incidentally, Barack Obama is the ne plus ultra of this foul Leftist trend. Although he is frantically denying it now (once more making a bald-faced liar of himself), and although the NYT’s is desperately trying to work as the enabler for this man’s Leftist pathology, he really thinks he can and should just sit down and have a chat with these fanatics, at which point they’ll smile and retreat permanently.

What an idiot — which would be fine if he confined his stupidities to a small circle of friends and business associates. It’s frightening, though, to think that Obama wants to visit this level of cultural unawareness and blatant stupidity on the American people and the world.

The correct response, of course, to this kind of barbarity is Lord William Bentinck’s response to sati (or suttee), the old Indian practice that required a widow to immolate herself on her husband’s funeral pyre.  When told that the British could do nothing to prevent sati because it was an ancient Indian practice and that outlawing it might destroy Britain’s interests in India, he nevertheless went ahead, in 1829, and made the practice illegal.  It still took decades for the practice to die out, but his legislation struck it the first death blow.

Biology will have its way *UPDATE*

One of the things the feminists insist upon is absolute equality, whether that means depriving men of the opportunity to participate in college sports simply because there aren’t enough women to create parity, something that’s now being done in the sciences as well; or allowing women to engage in sexual activity as if they were men. I’ve commented on that last point before in the context of the new type of rape claim, which has women getting themselves completely incapacitated through drugs or alcohol, falling into bed with a stranger and then later, when regret hits, crying rape (Laer calls this “gray rape”).

The fact is that, no matter what the feminists insist should be reality, when it comes to sex, women operate at a handicap level men don’t: historically, they were the ones who got pregnant. In modern times, we’ve been able to control that outcome, whether through birth control or abortions — both of which can be inconvenient, unpleasant or downright dangerous. Even removing or diminishing the inevitability of pregnancy, though, doesn’t do away with the hits nature imposes against women who step out too often sexually. It is women who suffer disproportionately from sexually transmitted diseases. As the African experience shows, when it comes to heterosexual sex, women are more vulnerable to HIV. Even without that scourge, women suffer more from sexually transmitted diseases: for men, chlamydia is a nothing; for women, it can create infertility, lead to greater vulnerability to HIV and, in pregnant women, put the child at risk. Likewise, for men, HPV (human papillomavirus) is an unsavory inconvenience; for women, it can be the trigger for cervical cancer.

Given the risks sex has for women — pregnancy, dangerous or emotionally devastating abortions, death in childbirth (a rather old-fashioned risk, but still a risk), HIV, infertility, and cancer — monogamous sex within a stable marriage is a great societal gift to women. I’m not talking, of course, about a situation in which the woman is expected to be monogamous, while her partner gets to do an Eliot Spitzer. That’s a dreadful situation, and Isak Dineson (Karen Blixen), whose husband infected her with syphilis, is the perfect example of the horrors of a one-sided demand for monogamy. Rather, I’m talking about the idealized relationship that sees a man and a woman meet, fall in love, get married and only then begin to have sex — with each other, and with no one else. It’s even okay if they meet, fall in love, have sex with each other only, get married, and continue to have sex with each other only. In our sex saturated society, where there’s always the promise of a new bedmate, this may sound a little dull, but it has its great compensations, for men and women both. Sexually variety is lessoned (which is, I think, a great hit to the men), but safety, affection, stability, and ease of access are all greatly increased. Even if it’s not always achievable, it should certainly be our goal.

The flip side of this idealized and increasingly arcane view of sexual relations is the new morality that tells girls that, if boys can sleep around, girls should be able to do so too. In the guise of equality, we’ve told our innocent young girls, girls who know only the world we offer them, that it’s just fine for them to “hook up” with a strange guy, have sex with multiple people, and basically to treat their health bodies as drive-throughs for men. Boys, of course, being nobody’s fools, willingly participate in this emotionally sterile culture.

If you’re curious about this degraded culture — one that is now the norm for American teenage girls and young women, and of course for the boys with whom they have sex — there are three excellent books on the subject. The first is Ariel Levy’s Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture, which describes the raunch culture in which our young girls (and boys) are encouraged to live; the second is Carol Platt Liebau’s book Prude: How the Sex-Obsessed Culture Damages Girls, the title of which is self-explanatory; and the third is Tom Wolfe’s I Am Charlotte Simmons: A Novel, a novel describing a young college woman’s experiences in this nihilistic sexual jungle.

The problem for all the feminists, and the men who recognize a good thing when they see it (no strings sex), is that nature will bite back. And so today, we read that 1 in 4 teenage girls has a sexually transmitted disease, with chlamydia and HPV topping the list. These diseases disproportionately affect African-American teens.

I’m willing to bet that, in the next few days, there will be articles about how this is Bush’s fault because he’s cut back on sex education. The fact that it’s African-American girls who bear the brunt of this epidemic means people will cite the usual culprits of racism and poverty, with the crackpots invariably claiming a Jewish plot. People will write that we need to improve birth control, that we need to improve sex education, that we need to improve screening for diseases, that we need to cut down on racism, that we need to spend government funds to fight poverty amongst African-Americans, and that we need to take the embarrassment factor out of sex so that teens will learn about birth control, disease prevention and disease treatment. (This last idea will, of course, be the most stupid, because it is the nature of ones teen years to live in an agony of embarrassment about everything. You can’t remove embarrassment, since it is the dominant underlying teen condition.)

The one thing no one will suggest, whether they’re coming from the MSM, the government, the liberal blogosphere, Hollywood, or anywhere else that has a loud voice across America, is that we start changing the culture, both among white and black teenagers. No one will suggest that movies and TV shows begin to do what was done in before the sexual revolution, which is to send out to teenagers the message that sex is for marriage and adults. Nothing in any medium will start to say that girls and boys should treat their bodies as something precious; that the sexual urge, although strong, can be controlled; and that there should be room in male/female relationships for love, affection and respect, all of which get pushed aside in the headlong rush for the bedroom. All that will happen is a shrill demand for more money to facilitate more teen sex — more sex education classes; more condoms that won’t get used; more clever advertisements about STDs, advertisements that teens will assiduously ignore; and ever more strident demands from the feminists and their opportunistic male fellow travelers that girls should approach sex in the same cavalier way that boys have been encouraged to view it.

UPDATE: Ed Morrissey notes that the study was small — only 863 girls — and urges an expanded study to see if the numbers still hold. I agree with him. However, I think my points will hold up even if subsequent studies show that only 1/5 or 1/6 teenage girls suffers from STDs.

I also want to note in this update that I am not advocating a sharia like crackdown on young women and sexuality. I think that is an equally appalling way to go, premised as it is on a male fear of female sexuality and a profound lack of respect for women. They’re protected, not for their own good, but because Islam preaches that they are simultaneously dangerous and worthless. I envision a new social paradigm that says women are valuable and that we should be encouraging them to treat themselves in that way — and to be treated that way. They’re not just bodies for pleasure, but they are complex human beings made up of mind, body and soul, all of which should be treated with dignity.

UPDATE II: In England, what happens when you try to teach children morality along side sex ed and to remind them of religion in a religious school (not teach them, just remind them), is that you get hauled before Parliament as a fanatic (emphasis mine):

A Roman Catholic bishop will be forced to explain himself to MPs today over fears that he is imposing religious “fundamentalism” on children.

Patrick O’Donoghue, the Bishop of Lancaster, will be questioned over his ban on what he calls “values-free” sex education in Catholic schools in his diocese and his order to put up crucifixes in every classroom.

His summons to appear before the House of Commons select committee on children, schools and families follows a 66-page document he produced last year which angered some MPs because of its strict line on sexual morality.

In the document, called Fit for Mission?, Bishop O’Donoghue wrote: “The secular view on sex outside marriage, artificial contraception, sexually transmitted disease, including HIV and Aids, and abortion, may not be presented as neutral information.”

He said “so-called” safe sex was based on the “deluded theory that the condom can provide adequate protection against Aids”.

And he added: “Schools and colleges must not supuseful-port [sic] charities or groups that promote or fund anti-life policies, such as Red Nose Day and Amnesty International, which now advocates abortion.”

Although sex education is mandatory in all secondary schools, Bishop O’Donoghue insisted that in every lesson – even science classes – it must be taught solely in the context of “the sacrament of marriage”.

The bishop has been criticised by Barry Sheerman, the chairman of the schools select committee.

“A lot of taxpayers’ money is going into church schools and I think we should tease out what is happening here,” said Mr Sheerman, the Labour MP for Huddersfield.

“A group of bishops appear to be taking a much firmer line and I think it would be to call representatives in front of the committee to find out what is going on.

“It seems to me that faith education works all right as long as people are not that serious about their faith.

“But as soon as there is a more doctrinaire attitude questions have to be asked.

“It does become worrying when you get a new push from more fundamentalist bishops. This is taxpayers’ money after all.”

The bishop said yesterday that his document had been in response to pressure from parents.

“Many parents go to great lengths to bring up their children properly and they feel that schools are not cooperating with them as well as they should,” he added.

He said Whitehall’s sex education policies had failed and 30 years of “throwing condoms at children” had simply resulted in increasing levels of teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.

Rape

If you haven’t already read Heather MacDonald’s debunking of the “Rape Epidemic” on college campuses, you must. The whole article is replete with gems such as this one:

The campus rape movement highlights the current condition of radical feminism, from its self-indulgent bathos to its embrace of ever more vulnerable female victimhood. But the movement is an even more important barometer of academia itself. In a delicious historical irony, the baby boomers who dismantled the university’s intellectual architecture in favor of unbridled sex and protest have now bureaucratized both. While women’s studies professors bang pots and blow whistles at antirape rallies, in the dorm next door, freshman counselors and deans pass out tips for better orgasms and the use of sex toys. The academic bureaucracy is roomy enough to sponsor both the dour antimale feminism of the college rape movement and the promiscuous hookup culture of student life. The only thing that doesn’t fit into the university’s new commitments is serious scholarly purpose.

The article’s first point is that the study that gave rise to the infamous “one out of four college women are raped” statistic was not merely flawed, a concept that implies that the researcher acted in good faith but erred in methodology, but was, instead, intended to arrive at the one out of four number — a result it could achieve only be stretching facts beyond all semblance of reality. There is, in fact, no rape epidemic on American campuses, and there never has been. The study’s “flaws,” of course, have never slowed down the college rape industry:

None of the obvious weaknesses in the research has had the slightest drag on the campus rape movement, because the movement is political, not empirical. In a rape culture, which “condones physical and emotional terrorism against women as a norm,” sexual assault will wind up underreported, argued the director of Yale’s Sexual Harassment and Assault Resources and Education Center in a March 2007 newsletter. You don’t need evidence for the rape culture; you simply know that it exists. But if you do need evidence, the underreporting of rape is the best proof there is.

In keeping with this political agenda, the fact that the highly funded rape centers dotting every college campus are ghost towns is irrelevant. Rather than scaling back on the centers to use the money for more useful purposes (education, anyone?), the feministas are going in the other direction: they are demanding more money, based on their contention that the empty rooms are a sign that more women are being raped than ever before. They’re just not talking about it.

MacDonald, after debunking the rape myth, then does something incredibly brave: she attacks a college social culture that is so nihilistic it creates the perfect environment for young women to find themselves in unpleasant sexual situations which are not rape, but which certainly lack any sign of love, respect, emotional commitment, or even mere affection:

So what reality does lie behind the campus rape industry? A booze-fueled hookup culture of one-night, or sometimes just partial-night, stands. Students in the sixties demanded that college administrators stop setting rules for fraternization. “We’re adults,” the students shouted. “We can manage our own lives. If we want to have members of the opposite sex in our rooms at any hour of the day or night, that’s our right.” The colleges meekly complied and opened a Pandora’s box of boorish, sluttish behavior that gets cruder each year. Do the boys, riding the testosterone wave, act thuggishly toward the girls? You bet! Do the girls try to match their insensitivity? Indisputably.

College girls drink themselves into near or actual oblivion before and during parties. That drinking is often goal-oriented, suggests University of Virginia graduate Karin Agness: it frees the drinker from responsibility and “provides an excuse for engaging in behavior that she ordinarily wouldn’t.” A Columbia University security official marvels at the scene at homecomings: “The women are shit-faced, saying, ‘Let’s get as drunk as we can,’ while the men are hovering over them.” As anticipated, the night can include a meaningless sexual encounter with a guy whom the girl may not even know. This less-than-romantic denouement produces the “roll and scream: you roll over the next morning so horrified at what you find next to you that you scream,” a Duke coed reports in Laura Sessions Stepp’s recent book Unhooked. To the extent that they’re remembered at all, these are the couplings that are occasionally transformed into “rape”—though far less often than the campus rape industry wishes.

For the unthinking, it would be easy to believe that the above paragraphs are yet another part of the old “blame the victim” mentality. (Laer, in a wonderfully thoughtful post, highlights a perfect example of this knee jerk reaction to any challenge to the campus rape paradigm.) There’s a world of difference between the two approaches, though. The old view took what was indubitably rape — forced sex on a completely unwilling victim — and pointed to inconsequential factors to justify the man’s conduct: she walked with a swing to her hips, she smiled at him, she wore a pretty dress, she’d been “flirting.” By ignoring the man’s conduct, and focusing solely on the woman’s, the legal system was able to ignore the fact that, as the woman was screaming “no,” the man was forcing sex on her.

The new rape paradigm has a very different scenario, one in which the “victim” admits that she did in fact say “yes” (although she may have intentionally reduced herself to virtually incoherent drunkeness first):

The magazine Saturday Night: Untold Stories of Sexual Assault at Harvard, produced by Harvard’s Office of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response, provides a first-person account of such a coupling:

What can I tell you about being raped? Very little. I remember drinking with some girlfriends and then heading to a party in the house that some seniors were throwing. I’m told that I walked in and within 5 minutes was making out with one of the guys who lived there, who I’d talked to some in the dining hall but never really hung out with. I may have initiated it. I don’t remember arriving at the party; I dimly remember waking up at some point in the early morning in this guy’s room. I remember him walking me back to my room. I couldn’t have made it alone; I still had too much alcohol in my system to even stand up straight. I made myself vulnerable and even now it’s hard to think that someone here who I have talked and laughed with could be cold-hearted enough to take advantage of that vulnerability. I’d rather, sometimes, take half the blame than believe that a profound evil can exist in mankind. But it’s easy for me to say, that, of the two of us, I’m the only one who still has nightmares, found myself panicking and detaching during sex for many months afterwards, and spent more time looking into the abyss than any one person should.

The inequalities of the consequences of the night, the actions taken unintentionally or not, have changed the course of only one of our lives, irrevocably and profoundly.

Now perhaps the male willfully exploited the narrator’s self-inflicted incapacitation; if so, he deserves censure for taking advantage of a female in distress. But to hold the narrator completely without responsibility requires stripping women of volition and moral agency. Though the Harvard victim does not remember her actions, it’s highly unlikely that she passed out upon arriving at the party and was dragged away like roadkill while other students looked on. Rather, she probably participated voluntarily in the usual prelude to intercourse, and probably even in intercourse itself, however woozily.

Men actually have a name for the kind of sex described above. It’s called “coyote ugly” sex, a term that I was introduced to when I lived in Texas. It posits a man so drunk that he beds a physically unattractive woman. In the morning, he is so horrified by the ugliness lying in his arms that, rather than wake her to escape, he’s willing to gnaw his own arm off to sneak away. (The analogy being to the fact that coyotes will gnaw off a leg that’s caught in a trap so as to escape.) Interestingly, this response imagines the man imposing a punishment on himself for being intoxicated enough to climb into bed with someone he never would have considered otherwise. Women, faced with the same situation — the morning after regret following the night before — are now encouraged to place the blame elsewhere for their own conduct and to cry rape.

As indicated in the last paragraph I quoted from MacDonald, she too understands the difference between women assaulted just for being female, and women who have sex they later regret:

A large number of complicating factors make the Saturday Night story a far more problematic case than the term “rape” usually implies. Unlike the campus rape industry, most students are well aware of those complicating factors, which is why there are so few rape charges brought for college sex. But if the rape industrialists are so sure that foreseeable and seemingly cooperative drunken sex amounts to rape, there are some obvious steps that they could take to prevent it. Above all, they could persuade girls not to put themselves into situations whose likely outcome is intercourse. Specifically: don’t get drunk, don’t get into bed with a guy, and don’t take off your clothes or allow them to be removed. Once you’re in that situation, the rape activists could say, it’s going to be hard to halt the proceedings, for lots of complex emotional reasons. Were this advice heeded, the campus “rape” epidemic would be wiped out overnight.

But suggest to a rape bureaucrat that female students should behave with greater sexual restraint as a preventive measure, and you might as well be saying that the girls should enter a convent or don the burka. “I am uncomfortable with the idea,” e-mailed Hillary Wing-Richards, the associate director of the Office of Sexual Assault Prevention and Women’s Resource Center at James Madison University in Virginia. “This indicates that if [female students] are raped it could be their fault—it is never their fault—and how one dresses does not invite rape or violence. . . . I would never allow my staff or myself to send the message it is the victim’s fault due to their dress or lack of restraint in any way.” Putting on a tight tank top doesn’t, of course, lead to what the bureaucrats call “rape.” But taking off that tank top does increase the risk of sexual intercourse that will be later regretted, especially when the tank-topper has been intently mainlining rum and Cokes all evening.

The only area in which I’d differ with MacDonald is with regard to her second to last sentence or, at least, I’d expand upon it: “Putting on a tight tank top doesn’t, of course, lead to what the bureaucrats call ‘rape.’” If a woman is forced into non-consensual sex that the attacker justifies by pointing to her tank top, that’s rape. However, I’m in complete agreement with MacDonald that, if the same woman gets drunk, makes out with a complete stranger, takes off the tank top on the dance floor, and then goes into a room and climbs in the bed naked with that same stranger, while she may later have regrets, he hasn’t raped her.

(I’m going to stick with this topic for the rest of this post, but I do urge you to read the rest of MacDonald’s article, which also has an extended discussion of the way in which universities encourage the hypersexualized culture at American colleges by doing such things as inviting sex shows to perform on campus.)

On the subject of that tank top: One of the things the anti-blame the victim movement did was to create an environment in which women were told that they ought to have the right to do anything they want without any risk at all. This is a striking departure from the original challenges mounted to the old “blame the victim” mentality. The original feminist attack, which was valid, challenged a legal system that allowed men to walk away without any consequences despite the fact that they had clearly forced sex, often horribly brutal sex, on an unwilling woman. These early (and rational) feminists weren’t looking at whether women should be able to engage in any conduct they wanted without consequences. Instead, they were looking at the men and saying that, if a man engaged in certain illegal sexual acts, there would inevitably be consequences regardless of the woman’s own conduct. Under this original and equitable feminist system, women were still expected not to be stupid. The only difference was that, whether the woman was stupid or not, a man who committed rape was denied the “it’s all her fault” legal defense.

I strongly support that world view. It’s a tragedy and a travesty that it’s morphed into a view that is the mirror image of the view prevailing in the pre-women’s rights era. Back then, the man was never at fault; now, the woman is never at fault. Both systems are equally abhorrent and equally damaging to the relationship between the sexes. It makes all of them enemies of each other.

When identity politics attack *UPDATED*

Noemie Emery perfectly summarizes the nightmare the Dems have created for themselves:

Sometime back in the 1990s, when the culture wars were the only ones we thought we had going, a cartoon showed three coworkers viewing each other with narrowed and questioning eyes. “Those whites don’t know how to deal with a competent black man,” the black man is thinking. “Those guys don’t know how to deal with a powerful woman,” the woman is thinking. And what could the only white male have been thinking? “They don’t like me. They know that I’m gay.”

So far as we know, there are no gays in the mixture today, but the cartoon nicely captures what the Democrats face as they try to wage a political war in the age of correctness, which is, they are finding, an impossibility. The Democrats are the party of self-conscious inclusion, of identity politics, of sensitivity training, of hate crimes, hate speech, and of rules to control them. A presidential campaign, on the other hand, is nothing but “hate speech,” as opponents dive deep into opposition research, fling charges true, half-true, and simply made up against one another in an attempt to present their rivals as slimy, dishonest, disreputable, dangerous, and possibly the worst human beings who ever drew breath.

This has been true of this country’s politics since at least 1800, when John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were vilified roundly, and has gone on ever since–an accepted and even a much-loved tradition. Until recently, it went on without murmur, as all the main contestants for president were white Anglo-Saxon Protestant males, with the exception of Michael Dukakis and three Roman Catholics, two of whom looked like WASPs. Now, however, in its campaign season from hell, the party of sensitivity has found itself in a head-banging brawl between a black man and white woman, each of them visibly loathing the other, in a situation in which anything said in opposing one of the candidates can be defined as hateful, insensitive, hurtful, demeaning, not to say bigoted, and, worst of all, mean. Looking ahead to the general election, Democrats were prepared to describe any critique made of Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton as an example of the racism and sexism that they like to believe permeates the Republican universe. But this was before their own race became quite so close, and so spirited. They never seem to have stopped to think what might occur if they turned their sensitivity bludgeons against one another. They are now finding out.

You’ll want to read the whole thing, which you can find here.

UPDATE: And here is precisely what Emery and I predicted, which is that the give and take of politics is dead, because you’re not allowed to attack Obama (just as you weren’t allowed to attack Hillary and make her cry):

The bitter back-and-forth between former President Bill Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama has led a prominent black lawmaker to tell the former president Monday to “chill a little bit.”

The two Democratic front-runners, Illinois Sen. Obama and New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, are locked in a battle for the key South Carolina primary this Saturday.

As their campaign sparring continues, the Illinois senator seems to be spending almost as much time responding to Hillary Clinton’s husband as he does to the candidate herself.

House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, one of the most powerful African-Americans in Congress, weighed in on the feud Monday, saying it was time for Bill Clinton to watch his words.

Hillary will be a better opponent for the Republican candidate because she is so strident and disliked, it will be okay to attack her in the ordinary rough and tumble of an election. Obama will be a disaster for the Republican candidate, because he’ll be untouchable.

Boys will not be boys

Last month, when a Colorado school issued an edict banning tag because someone might get emotionally hurt, I did a long post about how I thought the long-term consequences of that decision were infinitely worse than the short term issue of kids having a playground conflict. In the last couple of paragraphs of that same post, I wrote about a decision in my daughter’s classroom to ban a favorite type of boy play: imaginary weapons. I would have been okay had the rules denied any wild play in the classroom, reserving it instead for the school yard. What bugged me was how targeted it was to boys’ activities.

I’m not the only one who has noticed this trend. At American Thinker, Selwyn Duke has written a wonderful piece about these same education trends, with special emphasis on the attacks against the nature of boys. I urge you to read it and then, if you still have boys in public school, think about ways politely to change the dynamic.

Incidentally, it’s worth noting that elementary school education in the latter half of the 20th Century became pretty much the preserve of women, so one has to accept that there inevitably was going to be feminization in the classroom. This early feminine touch, though was aimed at soothing rough edges, teaching manners, and generally civilizing wild behavior. Nowadays, there’s a misanthropic, feminist edge to what’s going on, that is very much aimed, not at teaching manners, but at “de-boying” boys (witness the fact that, in my daughter’s class, a specific type of boy play got banned).

UPDATEAt Jeremayakova, there’s a video, a bit graphic, that illustrates Michael Savage’s theory that, for both men and women, homosexual culture has become the dominant norm — moving from fringe behavior most of us don’t espouse to cultural beliefs central to young men and women.  It’s interesting, and certainly worth thinking about, even if you don’t agree with any part of or even the entire premise.  (Hat tip:  RD — you know who you are, and thank you.)

Another one for the “where’s NOW now” file

Some Saudi women are bravely taking a stand and trying to overturn the prohibition against women drivers in that medieval theocracy:

For the first time ever, a group of women in the only country that bans female drivers have formed a committee to lobby for the right to get in the driver’s seat. They plan to petition King Abdullah in the next few days for that privilege.

Members of the Committee of Demanders of Women’s Right to Drive Cars say they want to have their petition delivered to the king by Sunday, Saudi Arabia’s national day.

“We would like to remind officials that this is, as many have said, a social and not religious or political issue,” said Fowziyyah al-Oyouni, a founding member of the committee. “And since it’s a social issue, we have the right to lobby for it.”

The government is not likely to respond to the plea because the issue is so sensitive and divisive. But al-Oyouni said the petition will at least highlight what many Saudi men and women consider as a “stolen right.”

The driving ban applies to all women, Saudi and foreign, and forces families to hire live-in drivers. Women whose families cannot afford $300-400 a month for a driver rely on male relatives to drive them to work, school, shopping or the doctor’s.

The last time the question of women drivers was raised was two years ago, when Mohammed al-Zulfa, a member of the unelected Consultative Council, asked his colleagues to just think about studying the possibility of allowing women over age 35 or 40 to be allowed to drive — unchaperoned on city streets but accompanied by a male guardian on highways.

His suggestion touched off a fierce controversy that included calls for his removal from the council and stripping him of Saudi citizenship as well as accusations he was encouraging women to commit the double sins of discarding their veils and mixing with men.

The uproar underscored the divisions in Saudi society between the guardians of its super-strict Islamic codes of behavior and those who want to usher in more liberal attitudes.

Conservatives, who believe women should be shielded from strange men, say women in the driver’s seat will be free to leave home alone and go when and where they please. They also will be able to unduly expose their eyes while driving and interact with strange men such as traffic police and mechanics.

But supporters of female drivers say the prohibition exists neither in law nor Islam, but is based on fatwas, or edicts, by senior clerics who say women at the wheel create situations for sinful temptation.

Interestingly, I don’t see at the NOW website any reference to this fight for women to have access to what has become a basic right around the world.  Instead, NOW is simply agitating for the US Senate to ratify a non-binding UN treaty aimed at rescuing women in those countries that bother to sign on to the treaty in the first place (or, as NOW artfully phrases it, “CEDAW prohibits all forms of discrimination against women by legally binding those countries that ratify it to the following measures.”). I’m not surprised that the Senate is unwilling to sign on to this waste-of-time treaty.  (And please note that this is a Democratic controlled Senate that’s not even bothering with this one.)

I’m so ashamed

Why am I ashamed?  I’m ashamed because I didn’t even know that there was a radio talk show network directed at women.  How in the world could I have missed that!  And yet today I suddenly discover that, while I was blithely listening to Dennis Prager, Hugh Hewitt and Michael Medved, poor Jane Fonda (along with former Bunny Gloria Steinem) was struggling to make sure women’s voices were heard about such timeless issues as . . . as . . . well, whatever.  Wait, wait.  I know.  About timeless issues that matter to vapid, overage Hollywood stars who have for years dabbled, in humiliating, foolish and dangerous ways, in Left wing politics.  Sad to say, these timeless issues don’t seem to have mattered to the majority of American women.  Otherwise, how could this have happened?

The “feminist” radio company whose founders include Jane Fonda and Gloria Steinem failed to attract an audience and it signed off the air for good on Friday.

When the talk-radio network, called GreenStone, officially launched in September 2006, NewsMax reported that it was a “new left-wing radio network that plans to appeal to women listeners and counter the dominance of conservative talk radio.”

GreenStone claimed it would deliver “de-politicized, de-polarized talk radio by women hosts for female listeners,” and Steinem said it would offer an alternative to current radio talk, which she described as “very argumentative, quite hostile, and very much male-dominated.”

She also said radio was “overbalanced toward the ultra-right.” But “Greenstone Media’s brand of tepid liberalism didn’t appeal to women,” Carrie Lukas, author of “The Politically Incorrect Guide to Women, Sex and Feminism,” writes in the New York Post.

Tut, tut, tut.

“Someone to watch over me….”

I’m quite heterosexual, but I’ve dreamed for years of having a wife. Turns out I’m not the only one:

Now that women have solidly earned their place in the work force, many find themselves still yearning for something men often have: wives.

“The thing I most want in life is a wife. I’m not kidding,” said Joyce Lustbader, a research scientist at Columbia University, who has been married for 29 years. “I work all day, sometimes seven days a week, and still have to go home and make dinner and have all those things to do around the house.”

It is not just the extra shift at home that is a common complaint. Working women, whether married or single, also see their lack of devoted spousal support as an impediment to getting ahead in their careers, especially when they are competing against men who have wives behind them, whether those wives are working or staying at home. And research supports their argument: it appears that marriage, at least marriage with children, bolsters a man’s career but hinders a woman’s.

One specialist in women’s studies dismissed wife envy as something women “are usually joking about” and another called it “a need for a second set of hands, regardless of gender.” But therapists who work with couples on equality issues say it is no joke.

“I hear it all the time,” said Robin Stern, a psychotherapist in Manhattan and author of “The Gaslight Effect.” “It’s a real concern. Things that used to be routinely taken care of during the week are not anymore.”

With two-income families now the norm, and both men and women working a record-breaking number of hours, the question has become how to accomplish what used to be a wife’s job, even as old-fashioned standards of household management and entertaining have been relaxed. Many men are sharing the work of chores and child care with their wives, and some do it all as single parents, but women still generally shoulder a greater burden of household business (or fretting over how to do what is not getting done).

Frankly, I don’t see this as entirely a matter of male chauvinism, although most people who know Mr. Bookworm and me would be the first to agree that, by any standards, Mr. Bookworm is a 1950s kind of guy who does absolutely nothing around the house.

Mr. Bookworm’s antediluvian tendencies aside, while there are many wonderful and devoted house husbands (I know a few), in 95% of the marriages I see around me, the husbands and wives have simply fallen, without thought, into the traditional role of the women taking on the primary childcare obligations. (I think it has something to do with the precedent set vis a vis the children with pregnancy and nursing.)

The fallout from that almost thoughtless devolution into traditional roles is that the women with paying jobs outside of the house inevitably decrease their hours, flex their hours, or give up paying work altogether. And the fallout from that change in paying work status is that, as their income declines and their hours at home increase, the women take on more of the domestic tasks. As every working mother knows, domestic tasks can be a full time job. These working women therefore

  1. rise at dawn,
  2. get everyone ready for work or school,
  3. get the children out the door,
  4. toss a load of laundry in the machine,
  5. get themselves ready for,
  6. go to work,
  7. pack a full day of work into part-time,
  8. race home to meet the kids,
  9. stuff snacks into the kids,
  10. drive the kids to their after school programs,
  11. race through the grocery stores while the kids play soccer,
  12. get the kids home from the after school activities, cooking dinner,
  13. supervise homework,
  14. tidy the house,
  15. finish the laundry,
  16. wrestle the kids into bed,
  17. complete the work that didn’t get down during the rest of the and
  18. collapse (often with that infamous headache).

Their husbands, meanwhile,

  1. get up in the morning,
  2. shave,
  3. shower,
  4. go to work,
  5. come home,
  6. eat dinner,
  7. kiss the kids and
  8. watch TV.

That’s why we modern women want wives — we want someone to take care of us and give us a break.

The politics of movie reviews

I’ve been reading the New York Times’ movie reviews for decades now. I don’t know if they were always so politicized and laden with PC instruction, and I just didn’t notice, or if they’ve gotten more and more liberally pedantic with the passage of time. I do know, though, that today’s set of reviews was as much about the reviewers’ political beliefs as it was about the movies themselves.

Take the review for I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, a silly sounding Adam Sandler movie that has as its premise the fact that two heterosexual fire fighters marry to ensure a stable home for one man’s children. The review, rather than really being about the movie, is about how the movie is wrong about PC issues, despite the GLAAD seal of approval (and I did you not about the latter):

Fear of a gay planet fuels plenty of American movies; it’s as de rigueur in comedy as in macho action. But what’s mildly different about “Chuck & Larry” is how sincerely it tries to have its rainbow cake and eat it too. In structural terms, the movie resembles a game of Mother May I, in that for every tiny step it takes forward in the name of enlightenment (gay people can be as boring as heterosexuals), it takes three giant steps back, often by piling on more jokes about gay sex (some involving a priceless Ving Rhames). Into this mix add the stunningly unfunny Rob Schneider, who pops up brandishing buckteeth, glasses and an odious accent in apparent homage to Mickey Rooney’s painful, misguided turn as the Japanese neighbor in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.”

“I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry” has been deemed safe for conscientious viewing by a representative of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, a media watchdog group. Given the movie’s contempt for women, who mainly just smile, sigh and wiggle their backdoors at the camera, it’s too bad that some lesbian (and Asian) Glaad members didn’t toss in their two cents about the movie. If Mr. Sandler dares speak in favor of gay love in “Chuck & Larry” — at least when it’s legally sanctioned, tucked behind closed doors and not remotely feminine — it’s only because homosexuality represents one type of love among men. Here, boys can be boys, together in bed and not, but heaven forbid that any of them look or behave like women.

Frankly, I think the movie seems dreadful, but I’m not a teenager. My sense, though, is that the reviewer is offended, not by the movie itself, but by the movie might actually not be as fond of gays as its premise implies. That’s a valid position, but it’s not the stuff of movie reviews.

But that’s just an “N” of one. How about the review for No Reservations, which is praised, not for its qualities as a movie or the virtues of its acting, but for striking the politically correct tone about working mothers:

What’s unexpected and gratifying, though, is the film’s enlightened attitude toward parenthood and work, which the movie’s publicity campaign conspicuously glosses over, even though it’s the story’s driving force.

***

Modern Hollywood movies often genuflect toward feminism while implying that a woman isn’t truly a woman until she has gratefully surrendered to motherhood. While watching “No Reservations” you keep waiting for the other high-heeled shoe to drop, but it never really does. The director, Scott Hicks (“Shine”), and the screenwriter, Carol Fuchs, respect Kate’s ambition, skill and drive. Throughout, they imply that Kate’s biggest hurdle isn’t a lack of aptitude for motherhood but her credulous acceptance of society’s one-size-fits-all definition of good parents.

***

It isn’t easy for Kate to process her sister’s death — she returns to work too quickly, and won’t take time off until her boss (Patricia Clarkson) orders it — and the challenge of mothering Zoe is even more daunting. Yet the film dares to present Kate’s stumblebum early efforts — subcontracting child care to a chain-smoking goth babysitter, then to a flirty single-dad neighbor (a charming and woefully underused Brian F. O’Byrne) — as proof not that she needs to quit her job, but that she’s fallen for the false dichotomy of work versus parenting.

I haven’t seen this movie, but I have seen Mostly Martha, the German movie that it copies. Maybe I read it wrong, but the German movie was about a horribly uptight woman who was humanized by having a child — which is quite a traditional message. I wonder if No Reservations has actually changed that message, or if this reviewer is just seeing things through the PC lens.

By the way, I don’t recall any movie advocating that a single Mom should just quit her job. However, anything with even a tidge of reality says that a woman (or man) suddenly responsible for a child must make changes and, possibly, sacrifices, for that child’s well-being. Only people in thrall to the ugliest feminism would say a helpless child has to be completely subordinate to a single woman’s desires.

There would be more, but I’ve gotta run….

UPDATE: I know that, sooner or later, someone is going to point out the obvious, which is that such sites as National Review Online or American Spectator also make political points in their reviews. That’s true. But the overt purpose of those reviews is to tell how they fit into the conservative world view. “If you are offended by movies encouraging out-of-wedlock babies, you won’t like this one” kind of stuff. Just as movie sites warn parents off of movies inappropriate for kids, these sites serve the function of warning conservatives off of movies that will make them heave.

The Times, however, holds itself out as an objective reviewer of movie quality, into which it then sneaks lectures telling its readers “If you are an evil person (i.e., not liberal), you’ll think these jokes are funny” or “all decent movie goers will recognize the political wisdom of this movie.” As always, for me, it’s not the agenda, it’s the hidden agenda.

UPDATE II: Just today, Jonah Goldberg, writing about the Simpsons, has something to say about politicizing reviews:

But, as I’ve often tried to point out, scrutinizing everything on a political calculus is often pointless and, worse, it sucks the marrow of joy out of the bone of life (Hmmmm bone-sucked joy-marrow). The Simpsons is funny because it’s funny. The politics of the show are a very small part of the equation, because politics are — and should be — a very small part of life, in Springfield and everywhere else.

UPDATE III:  I read movie reviews, but seldom go to movies.  I don’t read book reviews; I just read lots of books.  It turns out that, if I’d been reading the latter reviews and not just the former, I would have discovered that this same bias may well permeate the book review industry too.  Why am I not surprised?  I recall a year or so ago someone leaving a comment here saying that all books published by Regnery were bad, across the board.  There’s an  open mind.

Must say something meaningful….

The title of my post is reflective of what’s been going through my mind since I saw the Drudge headline announcing that the U.S. Senate, led by Democrats, has joined the surrender brigade. In what war in history, I ask you, has a country, with victory still more than possible, ever announced in advance to the enemy the date on which it intends to surrender? This is insanity on a national scale and it’s quite scary. I’m so flummoxed by the whole thing that I’m utterly unable to come up with something even marginally intelligent or meaningful to say about the subject. Blogs other than mine will castigate specific political figures or analyze in depth the crazy details in the Bill. All I can do is stand around with jaw dropped, assuming that something will happen (veto, anyone?) to take this train off the track.

By the way, I assume that the Dems passed the surrender bills in House and Senate precisely because they can rely on the veto. They can make a statement to their moonbat supporters knowing that they won’t be called to account for their utterly irresponsible conduct.

Okay, so there’s nothing meaningful coming from me on the real subject of the day. Fortunately, though, I have a backlog of really interesting emails from friends of my blog giving me the heads-up me about interesting things that other people have said. So, here, in no particular order, is stuff that, had I said it or found it in the first place, would have made me look very smart:

A few weeks ago, the British Guardian (a far Left paper that occasionally publishes surprisingly good articles) published an article entitled “We’ve never had it so good,” noting that, despite feminist whining, life for young British women in their 20s and early 30s is pretty damn fine. So fine, indeed, that, as described in the article, they sound like an extraordinarily arrogant, self-centered, emotionally isolated group of women. The real kicker, though, is in the article’s closing, which reminds us that these sophisticated, intelligent, successful young women, none of whom will demean herself by dating down, are going to face a demographic problem sometime soon:

Maybe it is a red herring to compare them to my generation [the article's author is in her mid-1930s]. Maybe we should be comparing them to their male counterparts. After all, the chasm starts early. Girls are outstripping boys at school; 59 per cent get five or more high-grade GCSEs, compared to 49 per cent of boys; 44 per cent compared to only 35 per cent of boys gain two or more A-levels, and last year more than half of first-degree graduates were women. They’re gaining a march on previously male-orientated professions – girls make up 62 per cent of law students, for example, 58 per cent of medicine and dentistry graduates, and are holding their own in science, previously a male-dominated subject, which now boasts an equal split between the sexes. They also seem to be more employable. Last year, while, seven per cent of 2005 male graduates were jobless – a relatively tiny percentage – for women, it was almost half that.

Talking to my group, I am sure about one thing though. The future is bright and it is female. Maybe it is the poor, confused young men we should be worried about. As a friend said: ‘You’re OK, you’ve got girls, but as a mother of a boy, I’m just a bit worried.’

Moving on to something good, it took me too long to carve out some time to watch John Hagee’s speech to AIPAC, but I’m so glad I finally did. I just had chills running up and down my spine, and tears running down my cheeks, as I listened to his speech. What an inspiring speaker, and what beautiful words poured forth from him. I’m tremendously grateful to my friend Jack, the Ex-Preacherman, who brought it to my attention.

In an editorial in the Philadelphia Daily News, Donna Baver Rovito took on the unconscionable silence of American feminists in the face of the horrors inflicted against women in the name of Islamism. Sadly, the article is now archived, for subscribers only, but I can quote a little:

ZILLA HUMMA Usman and Ayaan Hirsi Ali may be the bravest women on the planet.

Not brave like they might lose their jobs or be insulted for speaking out about workplace inequities, or they might get cold or wet demonstrating against “Bush’s war.”

I mean really brave, like they might be shot or stabbed or stoned or set on fire for having the courage to fight for the rights of Muslim women who are being oppressed, mutilated, abused, raped or even killed for the crime of being a woman.

Sadly, one of these brave women, Pakistani provincial minister Usman, IS dead – killed because she wasn’t wearing a head scarf and held public office. “I just obeyed Allah’s commandment,” said gunman Mohammad Sarwar. “I will kill all those women who do not follow the right path.” Many fundamentalist Muslims apparently feel the same way, if the number of “honor killings” in Pakistan – and in Germany, Canada and Australia- is any gauge.

The president the National Organization for Women immediately issued a statement denouncing Usman’s murder and praising her work, calling on feminists throughout the world to continue her fight for gender equality for Muslim women.

Oh, wait… no, she didn’t.

Neither NOW nor its Web site said anything about this brutal murder or the loss of this significant female leader. Not a word. (There is, however, an important piece on the site about how ” ‘Desperate Housewives’ Misleads Viewers About Teen Contraception.”)

Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the Somali-born author of “Infidel,” learned of a death threat against her when it was stabbed into the nine-times-shot-and-nearly-beheaded body of Theo Van Gogh. They had collaborated on a short film called “Submission” about the oppression of women in conservative Islamic cultures.

Forced out of her adopted home of Holland, where she was member of Parliament, Hirsi Ali now lives in the United States, where she was warmly welcomed by sister feminists from NOW, which offered her a weekly column about Muslim women’s rights on its Web site and features her writings prominently in its Books section, as well as a link to download “Submission.”

Oh, wait… no, they didn’t.

There isn’t a single entry about Ayaan Hirsi Ali on the NOW Web site. (But there IS a helpful video about “how advertising effects women’s body image, health and self-esteem.”)

Rovito goes on to detail something you will discover yourself if you check: NOW’s deafening silence in the face of these assaults against women’s very right to exist.  I guess the NOW gals are just too busy trying to resuscitate the moribund — and pointless — Equal Rights Amendment.

Aack!  Gotta run.  I’ll pick up with another, similar post later.

Those damn hormones!

Here’s the lady’s bio, which reads like a nightmare or a free spirit’s life, depending on your world view:

Left to her own devices by parents she thought were preoccupied with their careers, Rebecca Walker experimented with drugs, had sexual encounters with men and women, and had an abortion at 14.

But by the time she was an adult, she was writing about intergenerational feminism (her godmother is Gloria Steinem), and had helped found the Third Wave Foundation, a philanthropic group for women ages 15 to 30, becoming a symbol for young women who may not have considered themselves feminists.

Symbol though she was, Ms. Walker also cultivated a private life, and in her 20s was in a serious relationship with another woman.

Who is the lady? She’s the daughter of African-American novelist and feminist icon Alice Walker and civil rights lawyer Mel Leventhal. What makes Ms. Walker interesting is that she met her biological destiny, in the form of her two year old son, Tenzin:

Today, however, Ms. Walker, 37, has become what she called a new Rebecca, one who has a male partner, a child and some revised theories about the ties that bind, which she explores in a new book, “Baby Love: Choosing Motherhood After a Lifetime of Ambivalence” (Riverhead), to be released on Thursday. A review appears in The Times Book Review today.

Its inspiration? Her son, Tenzin, 2, who is named after the Dalai Lama. (Ms. Walker’s father voted for Chaim and lost.)

Gone is the sexual experimentation and, especially, gone is the belief that men and women are pretty well interchangeable. Instead, in their place is a woman who has turned in a 1950s kind of gal:

The book explores the usual pregnancy topics like food intake, genetic counseling and the doctor-versus-midwife debate, and reveals that Ms. Walker is now estranged from her famous mother.

But it is also unusual in that it is a pregnancy book with a message for women who are not yet pregnant, amplifying a theme Ms. Walker sounds on the undergraduate lecture circuit.

“I keep telling these women in college, ‘You need to plan having a baby like you plan your career if it’s something that you want,’ ” she said. “Because we haven’t been told that, this generation. And they’re shocked when I say that. I’m supposed to be like this feminist telling them, ‘Go achieve, go achieve.’ And I’m sitting there saying, ‘For me, having a baby has been the most transformational experience of my life.’ ”

And so Ms. Walker has become the latest to lend her voice to the long-running debate of work versus motherhood, a trade-off that to younger women probably no longer seems as stark as it did to Ms. Walker.

How very troubling for a movement when its icons publicly announce that the chosen path is an empty one.

As for me, I haven’t found children to be my personal be-it-and-end-all. I often miss my selfish old pre-child life of living only for myself. Selfishness exists because, until boredom sets in, it’s very pleasant. I don’t, however, regret having my children, tiring though they may be, and that’s not only because I love them.

I believe that, regardless of their biological age, people don’t fully grow up until they begin to take responsibility for others. I don’t responsibility in the form of being a manager who has to handle a payroll or some such thing. I mean finding yourself in a role where other’s lives immediately depend on you. Children are the most common way in which most people find themselves in this role:  If you’re not there for the children, both in terms of providing for their physical and emotional needs, they are lost.

Whether you have biological children, or adopt, or foster, or whatever, the responsibility for a child is the one job that most clearly and instantly separates you from your own childhood (the time when you looked for others to take care of you) or from your young adulthood (a time when you cared for yourself), but for nobody else. In that way, I think children are every person’s biological destiny — man or woman — because it is a necessary step in the trajectory of healthy maturity.

That’s my two cents. What are your thoughts on anything I’ve said here? (Feminism’s failure? Whether people need children to grow? Anything else?)

The reason I’m asking these last questions is because so many of my posts don’t elicit a lot of feedback. I can’t figure out if it’s because many of my posts are such comprehensive little universes that there’s nothing to add or if there’s something else going on. After I’ve had my say on a subject, I really do enjoy listening to what everyone else has to add, especially because I usually learn a lot from the breadth of knowledge and insight you all possess.

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What’s in a name?

My son asked me how Valentine’s Day began. I explained that, a long time ago, there was a man named Valentine who was known for his kindness to young couples who wished to get married (and he may have given doweries to poor girls so they could marry). He was also a Christian who died for his faith. When he was made a Saint, February 14 became his “Saint’s Day.” Every year, on that day, when people thought of him, they also remembered how he helped bring about marriages. St. Valentine eventually became associated with love, and the cards, chocolates and flowers soon followed. (You can read these and other theories about the holiday’s origins here and here.)

Valentine’s Day, sadly, isn’t what it used to be. While the little kids are still handing out cheesy cards to their classmates and eating candy hearts, big girls across America are castigating rape and having love-ins with their own vaginas. St. Valentine would be rolling in his grave.

All is not lost, however. As an antidote to the paranoid “Take Back The Night” feminist approach to love and romance — a view that equates all men with rapists — the Independent Women’s Forum has launched it’s “Take Back The Date” campaign, an idea aimed at re-romanticizing Valentine’s Day:

Take Back the Date is an IWF initiative to reclaim Valentine’s Day from radical feminists on campus who use a day of love and romance to promote vulgar and promiscuous behavior through activities like The Vagina Monologues.

This isn’t just about demanding flowers and candy from men. Instead, as I understand it, it’s about elevating both men and women to a higher plane of conduct that’s not just about random hooking up (read: “casual sex”) and date rape. Instead, it’s about respect, attraction and romance, old-fashioned ideas that might look pretty darn good to young people immersed in the sterile, hostile, demeaning world of modern college dating.

So, if you are in college or know someone who is, maybe it’s time to remind yourself or your friends what Valentine’s Day is really about.

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White liberal women again unclear on the concept

The Museum of Modern Art hosted a symposium about feminist art. The story covering the symposium noted that the only time these feminist artists contemplated Islam they did so, not to discuss how their art could be used to help Islamic women break free from their invisibility and from the abuse heaped upon them, but to attack the Iraq War. Of course, considering what passes for art amongst the political chattering classes, maybe it’s a good thing that they’re not striving to help these poor women. Their efforts, which would probably involve effigies of mullahs soaked in urine, might backfire.

UPDATE:

Are we women worth defending?

You are probably already familiar with the story about the huge increase in rapes in Norway, with 2/3 of them committed by “immigrants with a non-western background.” (And I wonder who those non-western immigrants might be?) I didn’t even bother to comment on it originally, because LGF had it covered. I’m commenting now because of something Phibian said when he discussed this story, and it’s something that really needs further thought. After relaying the news, Phibian added:

There is hope, perhaps. From what I hear and watching the voting changes in Denmark and even Sweden, the head-in-the-sand attitude is slowly changing. They need to go faster though. A culture whose men will not come to the defense of their wives, sisters, and daughters is a culture that will not last. (Emphasis mine.)

What I wonder is whether Western women have been so abusive of their men, both by denigrating them and by marginalizing them, that men no longer feel either a need or a desire to protect them.

I’m the post-women’s lib generation. That is, I wasn’t one of the bra-burning, consciousness-raising crowd. I came of age after everyone had been assured that women are entirely equal and men are sexist pigs to have kept them in servitude for so long. I went to college at a time (true story) when a young man who had the grace to hold the door open for a young women, even one burdened with books, would find himself roundly scolded for treating a woman like a helpless being.

I along with my generation, read Susan Faludi’s Backlash : The Undeclared War Against American Women and Naomi Wolf’s The Beauty Myth : How Images of Beauty are Used Against Women, both of which assured me that, despite their lip service to liberation, modern American men had as their real goal the subjugation of women by whatever means necessary. I grew to suspect and disrespect men.

What saved me were a few things. I respected my father, a deeply honorable man. I read Arlie Hochschild’s The Second Shift, which pointed out that the more men bought into women’s lib, the less likely that were to help their working wives, and I read Christina Hoff-Sommer’s Who Stole Feminism? : How Women Have Betrayed Women, which exposed the vast divide between equity feminists (those who want equal work for equal pay, and equal treatment under the law), and the more extreme feminists who view men as inferior beings out to enslave and destroy women. Lastly, I got to know more men, some of whom became dear friends, and it was obvious that they were not the enemy. However, not all women have made this journey, and the NOW website amply demonstrates that many women continue to view men as alien beings placed on earth to destroy women.

Men are not stupid (feminist myths notwithstanding). They know that, in Western civilization, women think little of them. Under those circumstances, why in the world would men who have absorbed this message feel obligated to put themselves on the line for these women? I know that any individual man will act for his own wife, his own sister, and his own daughter, but he feels no obligation to women at large, since women at large have made it clear that he is unnecessary except for his sperm capacity.

(By the way, I am a complete equity feminist, with an abiding belief in equal pay for equal work, equal opportunities, and equal treatment under the law. I do not believe men are out to get me. I do not believe that either sex is superior or inferior to the other. I do not believe men are conspiring to keep women barefoot, pregnant, in the kitchen, and out of the boardroom. I do believe men have problems with toilet seats and apologies, but we won’t go there.)

UPDATE: Something interesting to read in connection with my musings about the respect men and women have lost for each other.

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Sexual politics and hubris

The Washington Post has picked up and expanded upon the story about Bonnie Bleskachek, the Minneapolis fire chief recently fired for all sorts of sexual and discriminatory shenanigans. It makes for fascinating reading if you don’t mind that your local fire house sounds like a lesbian Peyton Place with a dollop of man hatred thrown in for good measure.

I don’t doubt that the women mentioned in the story (and there are many mentioned, since Bleskachek seemed to use her power to create a revolving bed situation) are good firefighters and, in the right situation, would be decent, disciplined individuals. Given power, and the probable belief that they were politically untouchable, though, they went wild.

It’s a nasty story and a reminder that victim and identity politics, by elevating one group above another, tend to create whole new victim cycles. It’s cliched, but I’ll say it anyway: “Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

Hat tip: Independent Women’s Forum

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Women in the workplace

I wrote “I am Woman, hear me whine” to riff off of a story about law firms’ difficulty in retaining black lawyers. I noted the role affirmative action has to play, but also suggested, based on my 20 years out of date experience at a big law firm, that women and minority attorneys might feel too entitled to work as hard as the boring old white guys. Comments quickly started swirling around glass ceilings and feminine competence. I asserted, without citing to data, that many of the most educated women opt out of the corporate rat race. Carrie Lukas agrees, and says that’s not a bad thing:

What about women working in the private sector? More than 40 years after Betty Friedan urged women to exchange their aprons for business suits, by many measures, women’s progress in the workforce has stalled. Certainly today more women work and hold more prestigious jobs than ever before: as of 2002, women accounted for 46.5 percent of the workforce and held more than half of managerial and professional specialty jobs. Yet few women make it to the very top of the business world. According to the nonprofit research institute Catalyst, just eight Fortune 500 companies have female CEOs, and women account for just 5.2 percent of those companies’ top earners.

Why is this? Liberal feminist groups, like the National Organization for Women (NOW), tend to insist that sexism and discrimination are the primary cause. Yet many individual women recognize that their choices — particularly the choices they make once they have children — make the difference.

A recent Newsweek cover story highlighted how many women who are best positioned to break through the proverbial glass ceiling willingly downshift their careers after having children. A Harvard Business Review survey of midcareer women with graduate degrees or college degrees with honors found that more than one-third had taken extended time off from work, with the average break lasting more than two years. Surveys have shown that women evaluating job opportunities place a lower value on pay than men do, focusing more on job characteristics like flexibility and personal fulfillment.

That’s good news. If women’s different choices and preferences explain the paucity of women in the Fortune 500, then it’s not a problem that needs to be solved. Many women sincerely prefer lives dedicated to raising their families over high-flying careers, and we should respect their choices.

You can read the rest here. It certainly holds true for the women I know, myself included.

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I am woman, hear me whine

There’s an article in today’s New York Times exposing (again) one of the problems with affirmative action — it elevates nice, ordinary people to situations where they’re bound to fail. This time the focus is on the nation’s top law firms, where African-Americans consistently fail to last:

Thanks to vigorous recruiting and pressure from corporate clients, black lawyers are well represented now among new associates at the nation’s most prestigious law firms. But they remain far less likely to stay at the firms or to make partner than their white counterparts.

A recent study says grades help explain the gap. To ensure diversity among new associates, the study found, elite law firms hire minority lawyers with, on average, much lower grades than white ones. That may, the study says, set them up to fail.

The study, of course, is being vigorously challenged. You can read about the whole debate here.

I’m actually inclined to agree with the study’s conclusion based upon my own years at big law firms. So many of these firms hired minorities solely so that they could boast about their progressive ethnic balance. This meant that they weren’t always so picky about their new hires’ qualifications. These kids were window dressing, and the firms never really committed to having them for the long haul.

However, based on my twenty-years out-of-date information, let me throw out one more reason that minorities aren’t lasting at the big firms — their sense of entitlement prevents them from working as hard as they ought to. In this regard, I speak from personal experience. I was one of a big crew of women and minorities that a large urban law firm hired so that it could boast about its diversity, something that was becoming very important in the legal marketplace. All of us were academically qualified and could have been hired without regard to our sex or race, but we still felt very special — we were the vanguard of the new lawyer. Away with the “white boys,” and in with the women, the Hispanics and the African Americans.

Of course, because we were so special, we felt pretty sure we were entitled to special treatment. It just wasn’t fair to make us work so hard, and why in the world weren’t they holding our hands constantly? Those ugly, old, white men seemed to expect us to be self-propelled, aggressive, and to stand on our own two feet. We were women and minorities, though, and we weren’t about to do that. We wanted mentoring! As it happened, mentoring wasn’t going to be in the cards at that old-line firm, with the result that those of us who didn’t leave under our own steam were swiftly “downsized.”

At the time, I was absolutely certain that all blame for the debacle that was my incoming year of associates was the firm’s fault. I’m less and less sure now. The fact is, while the firm made no effort to accommodate the new culture of incoming lawyers they’d hired, we made no effort to fit into the firm’s culture. In our youthful arrogance, and cloaked in our victim status, we believed that it was the firm that should completely change its decades old culture in our favor. Looking back, I’m quite sure that, if I hadn’t been so caught up in my special status as a touchy-feely, sensitive, needy woman lawyer, I would have been better equipped to handle the hard work and hard knocks that come with a big firm. A big firm is a dynamo, and nothing is going to shape it into the type of small, personal firm with which I routinely work now. That’s simply not the nature of the big firm beast.

(By the way, my memory says that Asian men had no problem adjusting to big firm culture. While Asian women had bought into feeling just as needy as Caucasian women, Asian men were simply hard workers who eschewed victim status.)

In any event, I realize that my observations are outdated and that there is a small number of big firms out there that has been able to handle the new breed of non-white, non-male attorney. For the most part, though, I do wonder whether a large part of the problem doesn’t lie with the various law firms’ arrogance, but with the arrogant sense of entitlement that characterizes the new breed of female and/or minority lawyer.

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These aren’t the women I know

In a slap in the face to Larry Summers (indeed, the New York Times includes many face slaps in its report), a special panel for the National Academy of Sciences has issued a report in which it says it’s entirely the fault of scientific institutions that there aren’t more women represented in science’s upper echelons:

The panel dismissed the idea, notably advanced last year by Lawrence H. Summers, then the president of Harvard, that the relative dearth of women in the upper ranks of science might be the result of “innate” intellectual deficiencies, particularly in mathematics.

If there are any cognitive differences, the report says, they are small and irrelevant. In any event, the much-studied gender gap in math performance has all but disappeared as more and more girls enroll in demanding classes. Even among very high achievers, the gap is narrowing, the panelists said.

A spokesman for Mr. Summers said he was out of the country and could not be reached for comment.

Nor is the problem a lack of women in the academic pipeline, the report says. Though women leave science and engineering more often than men “at every educational transition” from high school through college professorships, the number of women studying science and engineering has sharply increased at all levels.

For 30 years, the report says, women have earned at least 30 percent of the nation’s doctorates in social and behavioral sciences, and at least 20 percent of the doctorates in life sciences. Yet they appear among full professors in those fields at less than half those levels. Women from minorities are “virtually absent,” it adds.

The report also dismissed other commonly held beliefs — that women are uncompetitive or less productive, that they take too much time off for their families, and so on. Their real problems, it says, are unconscious but pervasive bias, “arbitrary and subjective” evaluation processes, and a work environment in which “anyone lacking the work and family support traditionally provided by a ‘wife’ is at a serious disadvantage.”

I assume that the above conclusions come from a vast data pool. My own data pool would be extremely different.
In the affluent community in which I live, all of the women, without exception, have undergraduate degrees and many of the women have more advanced degrees. Significantly, a large number of these well-educated, highly trained women have voluntarily opted to remove themselves from the work force. That is, they prefer mothering over working.

Even if the work place were to be rejiggered, so that a man would work hard for years to make tenure, while a women would be given a free pass for her child bearing years, these women still wouldn’t return to the work place. If they did return, they’d do what so many of us do — work in a part time, limited responsibility capacity. Their priority is their children. In this regard, it may or may not be significant that Donna Shalala, who also shows up in the article complaining about it’s being the system’s fault that women aren’t adequately represented made the choice never to marry or have children.

Little girls are made from sugar and spice….

I distinctly remember the laughs ordinary people had decades ago when a Harvard study for the then ridiculously high sum of $50,000 established that mother’s milk is good for babies. I had the same “duh” feeling when I read that a San Francisco neuropsychiatrist has written a book, based on cutting edge brain research, showing that men and women are wired differently:

Male and female brains are different in architecture and chemical composition, asserts [Louann] Brizendine. The sooner women — and those who love them — accept and appreciate how those neurological differences shape female behavior, the better we can all get along.

Start with why women prefer to talk about their feelings, while men prefer to meditate on sex.

“Women have an eight-lane superhighway for processing emotion, while men have a small country road,” she writes. Men, however, “have O’Hare Airport as a hub for processing thoughts about sex, where women have the airfield nearby that lands small and private planes.”

Untangling the brain’s biological instincts from the influences of everyday life has been the driving passion of Brizendine’s life — and forms the core of her book. “The Female Brain” weaves together more than 1,000 scientific studies from the fields of genetics, molecular neuroscience, fetal and pediatric endocrinology, and neurohormonal development. It is also significantly based on her own clinical work at the Women’s and Teen Girls’ Mood and Hormone Clinic, which she founded at UCSF 12 years ago. It is the only psychiatric facility in the country with such a comprehensive focus.

A man’s brain may be bigger overall, she writes, but the main hub for emotion and memory formation is larger in a woman’s brain, as is the wiring for language and “observing emotion in others.” Also, a woman’s “neurological reality” is much more deeply affected by hormonal surges that fluctuate throughout her life.

The book sounds great, and I’ll definitely read it but, really, do people need that level of science to prove what we all intuitively know to be true about ourselves and our world? Certainly, as a parent, with my own children and their peers, I see these differences every day.

I’m the parent to two little sexual stereotypes. My daughter is the quintessential girl in so many ways. Social relations are the most important things in her life, whether it’s relating to her girlfriends or having crushes on the many nice little boys in our community. A day without social contact is, for her, a day that isn’t worth living. In dress, since she’s been a toddler, she’s gone for the most traditional feminine look, with a heavy emphasis on pink, pink, and more pink — and this despite my best efforts to steer her to a broader color palette and more workable jeans.

My son is her opposite in that, from the get-go, he’s been the most manly of men. Since his toddler years, his heros have been construction workers, firefighters, police officers and, for the past many years, soldiers. He spent his entire kindergarten year wearing camo to school every day, which is quite a feat in Marin. Social relationships are of little importance to him: he’s interested in objects (anything with buttons or switches) and activities that involve running, balls and competition. I was speaking with his teacher a few months ago, when he was nearby, and asked her who his lunchtime playmates were. She turned to him and asked, “Little Bookworm, who are you playing with at lunch?” His response was a classic: “I don’t really care. It just depends what game they’re playing.”

My kids’ approach to education reflects their essential femininity and masculinity.  My daughter immerses herself in a sea of words.  She loves reading (a bookworm after my own heart) and works well with others.  My son has an intuitive grasp of numbers and logic, and wants to work on his own, with the spur being competition with others.  I know my daughter will do well in school which is, currently, shaped to accommodate girls, their interests and their learning styles.  I’m much more worried about my son, despite the fact that he’s bright and agreeable.

Only recently, Gerry Garibaldi, writing for City Journal, added one more to the increasing number of articles about how feminized classrooms shortchange boys.  Garibaldi focuses on the fact that classrooms shut down boys’ intellectual demands for logic and reasons.  Instead of appreciating the boys’ intellectual hunger, and their need to organize information, teachers see the boys as threatening to their control (and as we all know, most teachers are women):

One of the first observations I made as a teacher was that boys invariably ask this question, while girls seldom do. When a teacher assigns a paper or a project, girls will obediently flip their notebooks open and jot down the due date. Teachers love them. God loves them. Girls are calm and pleasant. They succeed through cooperation.

Boys will pin you to the wall like a moth. They want a rational explanation for everything. If unconvinced by your reasons—or if you don’t bother to offer any—they slouch contemptuously in their chairs, beat their pencils, or watch the squirrels outside the window. Two days before the paper is due, girls are handing in the finished product in neat vinyl folders with colorful clip-art title pages. It isn’t until the boys notice this that the alarm sounds. “Hey, you never told us ’bout a paper! What paper?! I want to see my fucking counselor!”

A female teacher, especially if she has no male children of her own, I’ve noticed, will tend to view boys’ penchant for challenging classroom assignments as disruptive, disrespectful—rude. In my experience, notes home and parent-teacher conferences almost always concern a boy’s behavior in class, usually centering on this kind of conflict. In today’s feminized classroom, with its “cooperative learning” and “inclusiveness,” a student’s demand for assurance of a worthwhile outcome for his effort isn’t met with a reasonable explanation but is considered inimical to the educational process. Yet it’s this very trait, innate to boys and men, that helps explain male success in the hard sciences, math, and business.

Another problem boys have with school is the reading material they’re given.  Reading lists focus on feelings and relationships.  Boys want action, adventure, grossness and hard facts.  No wonder that, during reading time, the girls are engaged and the boys are tossing spitballs.  And no wonder boys are being diagnosed in record numbers with ADHD, and that they’re tuning out and dropping out as fast as they can.  At schools across America, they’re bored and under attack.  Their basic boy-ness is being pathologized and their interests are marginalized.  No person in his right mind would thrive in an environment like that.

Perhaps books like Brizendine’s, even though their focus is on women’s brains, will remind our educators that boys have brains too, and that these brains deserve to be respected and stimulated.  After all, just as girls are half the population, so too are the boys, and an educational policy that ignores the boy half is just as bad as the education systems in prior years that ignored the girl half.

Manly men versus slackers

I don’t ordinarily read Time Magazine, since I decided years ago, even before my political transformation, that it held little interest for me. (Although I distinctly remember, in 1982, a “hip” young man I worked with castigating it as a conservative mag fit only for parents.) The only reason I even read it now was because, while I was biding time in the orthodontist’s office, it was the only alternative to a car magazine. As is my practice with all magazines, I started at the back, with the light stuff. And that’s how I got to read Belinda Luscombe’s delightful op-ed about the men populating Hollywood’s recent batch of “romantic” “comedies” (both of those words deserve sarcastic italics, since the movies tend to be neither romantic nor funny). Here’s how Luscombe describes some of Hollywood’s latest offerings (all of which, I believe, have fared badly at the boxoffice):

Pity poor Uma Thurman. In My Super Ex-Girlfriend, her new movie, she plays a superhero who falls for Luke Wilson, a not very successful architect. He does not reciprocate, a less than shrewd response to a woman who, with one glance, can set you alight–and I don’t mean with desire. In her last romantic comedy, Prime, she played a high-powered fashion consultant who’s dating a man who worked as a kitchen hand and moved into her apartment and played a lot of video games. Those are the men Uma Thurman gets. Or doesn’t.

But she’s not alone. In this summer’s The Break-Up, Jennifer Aniston lives with an overweight and slobby tour guide, while in Failure to Launch, Sarah Jessica Parker woos a man who dwells with his parents. Those guys would have bonded well with the lads from last year’s Wedding Crashers, who sneak into other people’s nuptials because they have no life, or with that 40 Year-Old Virgin fella. Or, for that matter, the gentlemen from Hitch or Fever Pitch or Along Came Polly or almost any other recent movie in the opening scenes of which boy and girl meet cute. They are, all of them, spectacular weenies.

She’s so right. These guys aren’t even New Age sensitive guys. They’re old-fashioned losers.

Interestingly enough, these Hollywood movies are the mirror image of the British chick-lit books I’ve been complaining about. In the latter, the women are boozy, pathetic losers who somehow manage to land the best guy in room. Although depressing, these stories are at least probable, since historically men have tended to marry down, and women up. The Hollywood movies, though, with their wildly successful women and flakey men are, well, weird. And just as I wondered why the British would go for stories demeaning to women, I have to wonder, even more strongly, why Hollywood would go for stories demeaning to men. Here’s Luscombe take:

Most of the men in these movies are under 40. Could it be that a generation raised by women who worked at paying jobs before pulling a second shift as homemakers simply find any situation in which women are not heroically gifted and energetic to be too much of a suspension of disbelief?

We know what the schlub love interests are not. They are not a female fantasy. Given Uma-like superpowers or even Condi-like earthly powers, women would not, surely, choose to waste them on bringing numskulls who look like Ben Stiller up to I’m-prepared-to-be-seen-out-with-you standard. Women need their superpowers for more important stuff like fighting illiteracy and deflecting people’s attention away from the fact they’ve gone maybe one day too long without shaving their legs. [Emphasis mine.]

Is this what Slackers, Gen X, Gen Y and the loonier side of Feminism have brought us to? A bizarre Lake Woebegone, where the women are strong, the children are above average, and the men are pathetic failures?

I’m already beyond the stage where I’m affected by these young men (I’m not dating anymore), but I find it depressing that both my son and daughter will be raised in a world where men are demeaned and women are (probably) depressed. Luscombe notes that we’ll never have the society or the wit to take us back to the wonderful snappy romances of the 1940s, or even the Cinderella tales of the 50s and 60s, but she raises a cry for some return to a time when men were men and women were beautiful:

It’s clear we can’t return to the days of Gigi and Daddy Long Legs and Funny Girl, when gawky young women were transformed into Givenchy-wearing lovelies by suave, much older men who danced well. Steve Martin tried that last year with shopgirl. In the scene where he puts his hand on Claire Danes’ naked back, audience members around me practically reached for their cell phones to dial child services. Meanwhile, the vicissitudes of show biz have done in the witty Spencer Tracy–Katharine Hepburn bickerfests, because they require people to actually pay attention. And let’s face it, we have all drunk at the Tom Hanks–Meg Ryan soda-pop stand once too often. So, yes, our romantic-comedy appetites are limited.

But would it be too much to ask to have women occasionally be the losers? Why is it that when stranded men are rescued by women it’s comedy but when women are rescued by men it’s an action film? Females have exactly the same rights to louse up and slack off and be really immature and dysfunctional as men do. If you put a banana peel in front of us, do we not slip? Enough is enough. The time has come to rise up, my sisters! Let’s fight for our right to be in the wrong.

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Female group think

Over at the Independent Women’s Forum, they’ve had a series of amusing posts about the shenanigans at the NOW annual meeting.  So much about the NOW worldview, but this particular loonines, which Allison Kasic reports, really caught my eye:

At the “I’m not a feminist, but…” workshop at the NOW conference I received an amusing little card.  This card, the size of a standard business card, has the following message:

“Dear Friend,

“I am a feminist.

“I am sure you did not realize this when you made/laughed at/agreed with that sexist/misogynist remark.  In the past, I have attempted to alert others to my feminist/activist identity in advance.  Unfortunately, this invariably causes them to react to me as pushy, manipulative, socially inappropriate, or humorless.  Therefore, my policy is to assume that you do not typically make these remarks, even when you believe there are no feminists present, and to distribute this card when you do.

“I regret any discomfort my presence is causing you, just as I am sure you regret the discomfort your sexism is causing me.”

If I hear on of my friends saying a sexist comment, I’m instructed to hand them the card.  Talk about being passive aggressive!

Feminists and religion

As I’ve noted before, feminism keeps reinventing religion in a feminized version.  The latest example, courtesy of NPR, is the feminist rediscovery of the mikvah — the ritual bath Orthodox Jewish women take every month after their period before resuming sexual relations with their husbands.  Here’s the feminist take on this ancient ritual:

“I always felt like it suggested a woman was unclean, and that’s why she had to come and immerse,” Sher says. “But this is a completely different animal.”

Sher says it was her daughter who first introduced her to a modern interpretation of the mikvah as an affirmation of her femininity and fertility.

“It gives me a chance to appreciate the miracle of my body — and I’m not drawn to my thighs, you know, they’re too big,” she says. ” It makes me think about [my] three children, and the miracle that I was able to give birth to them, and I appreciate God’s work.”

Sher says she and her husband also find beauty in abstaining from sex each month until she goes to the mikvah — not because of any menstrual stigma, she says, but because they find it meaningful.

My suspicion is that the mikvah developed for a very practical reason.  Contrary to Sher’s romantic “I am woman, hear me roar” view of women and their beautiful, earth-mother bodies, the fact is that, after a period, women in an era predating running water and regular hygiene probably were yuckily unclean.  It was incredibly sophisticated of the Jews to make a lovely ritual out of this nasty fact.  But the nasty fact remains.  In ancient times and desert climes, I doubt any man would have been enthusiastic about approaching his wife in the immediate aftermath of her monthlies.

Not only is Sher’s observation silly, it points to a fatal flaw in feminist religion:  this approach to religion has nothing to do with traditional religious concepts.  It’s not about morals, faith, or God.  Instead, it’s all about self-aggrandizement.  Feminists use these attacks on (or co-options of) traditional religious doctrine as a way to undermine or ignore religious principles.  In other words, although these feminist incursions are dressed up as religion, they are, in fact, un-religions, because they teach no faith or moral lessons.  They’re just another excuse for women to claim their primacy over men.

What we owe our children

In the West, courtesy of modern birth control, when most of us have children, it's because we want them.  They, after all, didn't ask to be born.  To me, this means that we have obligations to them far beyond the material ones of food, shelter and clothing, and even beyond the less tangible one of "love."  I think we owe our children a certain amount of sacrifice.  That is, if a marginal, or even significant, diminution in our happiness is necessary to the child's well-being, we don't "follow our bliss," we make that sacrifice.  That's what Elizabeth Vargas did.  She's the co-anchor of ABC's World News Tonight who left her job because, with a three year old and an almost wrapped-up pregnancy, she wants to give her attention to her children and not her employer:

‘For now, for this year, I need to be a good mother,’ she said in an interview on Friday, a few hours before anchoring her last newscast….

It sounds like a fine decision to me.  I certainly don't advocate women abandoning their jobs automatically for children.  Often, having a job is the right decision, whether economically or because there's a certain virtue in the mother and child spending a little less time together.  However, Vargas clearly decided that her children, who didn't ask to be born, need her more than ABC does.

This should be obvious, so you're probably asking why I'm making such a big deal of this.  I'm making a big deal because NOW is shocked:

‘It seems unlikely to me, having survived and thrived through her first pregnancy, that she would logically give up the top job in TV a few months out, anticipating she couldn’t handle it,’ said Kim Gandy, president of the National Organization for Women. ‘It just doesn’t strike me as a logical explanation. I don’t think there are too many men who would be happy to be removed from the anchor chair.’

Gandy added that ABC, which is owned by the Walt Disney Co., ‘doesn’t look like a very woman-friendly or family-friendly workplace.’

The sentiment underlying Gandy's statement, of course, is that women should never, never put their children's interests ahead of their own.  This goes beyond merely saying that children should not be spoiled, nor is it healthy for them to believe they are the center of the universe (a sentiment with which I wholeheartedly agree).  Instead, it is saying that children have no needs independent of the mother's.  They're sort of like a fashion-statement, nothing more.  NOW's antipathy toward's children becomes ever more aggressive.  No wonder most American women deny being feminists.

Hat tip:  Independent Women's Forum 

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Where is NOW now?

Phyllis Chesler writes movingly about the fact that Western women, obsessed as they are with abortion and Palestinian rights, have been shockingly silent regarding the treatment the Dutch have meted out to Ayaan Ali Hirsi. Among other things, Chesler has this to say:

Iranian woman prepared for stoning deathThe American Enterprise Institute (AEI) has offered Hirsi Ali a position. Karlyn Bowman of AEI tells me that “President Christopher DeMuth extended the offer to her on May 16 to become a resident scholar.” Ali had visited AEI last year and spoke to a small group, who were “impressed by her extraordinary odyssey and by her courage, charmed by her easy manner, and also impressed by the scholarly projects she wants to pursue.”

So, one of the world’s leading feminists has been offered a safe perch by a conservative think tank. I am not surprised. My own views about Islamic gender- and religious-apartheid have been received warmly and respectfully by conservatives, while such views have been attacked by many feminists as ”white nationalist” and ”racist.” To the best of my knowledge, the American feminist movement, with its vast access to university positions, has not offered Hirsi Ali a perch. Perhaps multi-culturally correct feminists are ambivalent about challenging Islamist misogyny—lest they too be censured as “racists” or threatened with death. Indeed, as I document in my book The Death of Feminism: What’s Next in the Struggle for Women’s Freedom, among most feminists, race trumps gender. Many feminists are now more concerned with the alleged “occupation” of Palestine than with the occupation of women’s bodies under Islam, and they tend to blame America and Israel for the sins of Islam.

I can't add to Chesler's solid writing on the subject. I can just urge you to read the whole thing, here.

(By the way, the picture I've used is of Iranian officials prepping an Iranian woman to be stoned to death. You can read more about that here.)

UPDATE:  Usually, when I visit American Thinker and read the articles, my head is nodding up and down like one of those dog thingies that used to appear in the back of cars in the 1960s.  That's why I'm always pleased to have my articles published there.  Today, though, the American Thinker had an article by a Dutchman that had my head frozen in place.  The Dutchman entire defends Holland's decision to "throw the baggage out" and accuses Hirsi of lying, totalitarian conduct.  I'm confused.  Regarding the lying, well, everyone has known since 1997 that she lied on her asylum request.  The writer is also outraged that she came to Holland "to better herself."  Considering that she was being forced into a marriage under misogynist regime and, if I remember correctly, had already been subject to an extreme female circumcision, bettering herself sounds like a reasonable idea.  Anyway, read the article and see what you think.